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Solar-Powered Star-Spangled Banner Is Part of Flag Day Festivities

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

On Flag Day, June 14, the National Park Service will hold several special events to commemorate the 234th anniversary of the adoption of the American flag.

Visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia and see where it all began. Stand in the room where the founding fathers passed the Flag Act of 1777 and established the Stars and Stripes as the new flag, and an infinite source of pride, for the fledgling nation.

America’s newest citizens will each receive an American flag during naturalization ceremonies taking place on Flag Day at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in Missouri, and the Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri will hold a patriotic concert and Fort Stanwix National Monument in New York will host a family fun day complete with an evening ceremony retiring the colors.

The biggest celebration will take place at Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the National Anthem. In addition to the naturalization ceremony, there will be concerts by choirs and military bands, a parade of state flags, and a spectacular fireworks display.

Soaring above all the festivities will be the park’s “green” Star-Spangled Banner. The landmark 30-by-42-foot flag is now illuminated entirely by solar energy. Four LED lamps draw their power from a pair of low-profile solar panels. The new lights not only save energy and money; they better enhance the colors of the flag and do not intrude on the historic character of the fort, unlike the old, ground-level, incandescent floodlights.

“By using solar power, we can harness the dawn’s early light that enabled Francis Scott Key to see the Star-Spangled Banner and use it to power the lights that allow us to view it at the twilight’s last gleaming,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It is just one of the many ways that we are incorporating renewable energy and sustainable practices into park operations.”

The “greening” of Fort McHenry has also included converting most of its external lighting to solar power, installing high-efficiency HVAC units and storm windows, setting up a geothermal heat pump system, purchasing electric utility vehicles, and constructing a LEED-certified visitor education center.

“Sustainability is a National Park Service principle. The country’s 394 national parks are implementing ways to reduce energy consumption, offer transportation alternatives, recycle and conserve resources,” said Jarvis. “Parks like Fort McHenry and Zion, which increased the amount of renewable energy produced in the park by 850 percent last year, are leading the way.”

The National Park Service now has more than 40 LEED-certified buildings, including the Eielson Visitor Center in Denali National Park and Preserve and the Old Faithful Education Center in Yellowstone National Park. There are also net zero-energy buildings at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. In Washington, D.C., the new Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool will save millions of gallons of water each year by recycling and filtering water from the Tidal Basin instead of using municipal water.

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